Scott Willis

Host, Reporter, Producer

I’ve always been enamored with the intimacy of radio.  It’s so personal.  It forces you to listen…and listen only.  No visual distractions.  I grew up listening to mostly top 40 radio in Detroit, with no shortage of entertaining DJ’s.  As a teenager, I discovered the area’s all news station.  I loved knowing what was going on, and the intensity with which they told stories.  I often wondered what it would be like to be the first to know what was happening, and then tell others.  Maybe that’s why I pursued a career in news. 

I would go on to serve as an intern at that all-news station, and it was amazing and maybe a little overwhelming to see what it took to put out a constant stream of news.  But something was missing.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I actually discovered Detroit’s public radio station at my alma mater.  What a difference!  You had time to write and tell engaging, meaningful stories, to be creative, all without the pressure to constantly crank out the news.  Quality over quantity.  That’s when I knew public radio was for me.  I was hooked.

I would hone my skills on and off for almost three years at WDET as an intern under the tutelage of a patient Assistant News Director. I produced daily stories for newscasts, but also was given the privilege of producing long-form features on topics that interested me, and that people knew very little about.  Now THAT was cool.  Right up my alley.  What budding reporter could ask for more?

I landed here in Syracuse in June 2001.  Today, I’ve come full circle, and now teach the craft to more than a dozen student reporters per week.  We work hard to choose informative stories, find the most engaging sound, and edit copy for clarity and accuracy. 

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife and little boy.  We like to take walks, travel, and read.  When I can, I’ll hop on my bike for a quick ride.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the honor and privilege of bringing WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners the news of the day during All Things Considered.  Thanks for listening.

Ways to Connect

John Smith / WAER News

Central New York firefighters and state officials gathered in Chittenango Thursday to urge Governor Cuomo to sign a bill that would provide coverage for presumptive cancers contracted by volunteer firefighters. Senator David Valesky says both the Senate and Assembly strongly supported the bill.

Several Central New York communities are being recognized for town-wide green energy initiatives that are saving tax-payers money.  The Village of Pulaski, the Town of Cazenovia, and the Village of Cazenovia are eligible for $50,000 in state grants to continue alternative energy development. Village of Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler finds that green initiatives are something everyone in a community can get behind. 

Sam Kmack / NY NOW

There’s some good news and some bad news from the State Comptrollers’ office. The state’s nearly $200 billion pension fund is doing well, thanks in part to the booming stock market, but there are some worrisome signs for the future of New York’s finances.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says the pension fund is up this quarter by 2.9 percent, and has increased 11 and a half percent from last year. DiNapoli says he likes to think that he and his staff have invested wisely, but he says a major factor is the booming stock market.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Nearly three dozen Fulbright Scholars from around the world are wrapping up a four week pre-academic program at Syracuse University preparing them for studies at universities across the U.S.  They learned the basics of how to give a presentation, take notes, as well as the legal and cultural nuances of America.  We caught up with four of them.  Mansoor Eqrar is an architect in the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing in Afghanistan.  He says the country's architecture is in a "bad situation" because buildings are imitating designs from Pakistan, Dubai, and other neighbors.

Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

The former EPA regional administrator under President Obama says scientists who leaked the report on further evidence of climate change to the New York Times should be commended as “whistleblowers”.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse’s Republican mayoral candidate says one of the keys to move the city out of poverty and lagging economic growth is through mayoral control of the school district.  Former superintendent and educator Laura Lavine says she’s prepared lead the turnaround.  

She says the Syracuse City School District’s recent improvement to a 60 percent graduation rate is nothing to celebrate.  The statewide average is 80 percent.  She says children are not learning and graduating as they should, and teachers don’t feel safe…

cayugacounty.us

Officials with the Army Corps Engineers say they’re working diligently to finalize the permit decision for the Owasco Flats restoration plan.  The project will help reduce algae blooms on Owasco Lake that threaten drinking water and recreation.  

The update comes after Senator Chuck Schumer paid a visit to Owasco Lake last week to push the project forward.   It’s been six years in the making, slowly going through a series of state and local approvals. 

Leo Tully / WAER News

A pair of Syracuse-area state lawmakers presented a report Friday that they say shows a community grid can’t be a stand-alone replacement for I-81 through the city.  The report by a former Chief Engineer of New York State Department of Transportation found the need to maintain traffic flow in and out of Syracuse.  State Senator John DeFrancisco and Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli say a hybrid solution might be best.

John Smith / WAER News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is optimistic that the ideas in her shared services proposal will save enough money to earn matching dollars from the state.   The roughly 100 ideas aim to streamline and reduce the cost of local government.  Mahoney released her plan last week, which is a combination of proposals from her office, and others from the consensus commission and municipalities. 

Got Mercury? Here's How to Dispose of it Properly

Aug 4, 2017
ocrra.org

Monday morning might be a good time to take advantage of the opportunity to safely dispose of old thermostats and prescription drugs sitting around the house.  The Onondaga Resource Recovery Agency is holding its Mercury and Medication Drop-off Event at the Rock Cut Road Transfer Station.  OCRRA spokesperson Kristen Lawton says the event is vital for getting old mercury thermostats and thermometers out of homes and disposed of properly.

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